As revealed by the Irish Examiner last month, there had been a strong possibility the colleges and universities would be dropped following a meeting of county managers in Limerick last month.
“We brought in the managers about four weeks ago and the decision was unanimous,” confirmed Munster chairman Robert Frost. “They felt the thing has gone flat and there have been a lot of mismatches. We’ll review it after 12 months and see how it goes.”
The McGrath Cup will be played on a group basis with three teams in each, guaranteeing all counties at least two games. The teams who top the groups will face off in a final. Clare return to the McGrath Cup after two seasons out. As had been touted, Tipperary’s hurlers have chosen not to play in the Munster Senior Hurling League meaning each county will get four games.
Munster third level colleges board chairman John Corcoran reacted: “It’s disappointing given Munster is the only province that has no space for the colleges and put them at a disadvantage to those in the other provinces. It’s the time of year when they’re preparing for Fitzgibbon and Sigerson Cups and others will now have a head-start on them as the Munster teams have go trawling around for practice games.
“Some of the colleges mightn’t have been up to the standards at times but at the end of the day they have served both competitions well. People should be reminded that if it wasn’t for six colleges joining Cork and Kerry in the McGrath Cup last year the competition would have been scuppered. Now almost a couple of years on and they’re not wanted.”
Corcoran can see some college football teams getting challenges with those counties who have a break weekend in the McGrath Cup. But he is worried county managers will call the shots to the detriment of young players.
“Heretofore colleges participating in it could name 24 players and have full say over them. Now they won’t and the players will be told to play for their county. It’s not the best way to go about it especially when you consider the question of burnout.”
(R1): Group A: Clare v Tipperary; Group B: Cork v Limerick.
Group A: Kerry v Clare; Group B: Waterford v Cork.
Tipperary v Kerry; Group B: Limerick v Waterford.
Group A winner v Group B winner
Limerick v Kerry, Clare v Cork.
Kerry v Cork, Waterford v Limerick.
Clare v Kerry, Cork v Waterford.
Cork v Limerick, Waterford Clare.
Kerry v Waterford, Limerick v Clare.